For many people, Provence is synonymous with lavender fields and vineyards, and with good reason – the interior landscape is undoubtedly stunning. But if you’re looking for some sea breezes to go with that café crème, Provence also boasts over 100 miles of coastline, dotted with picturesque fishing villages and rugged cliffs. So the next time you’re bound for the Riviera, consider visiting the Calanques for a daytrip with a difference.
Hike the Calanques
For active types, a day hiking the steep trails from the cliff tops above the town of Cassis down to the beaches nestled below is truly rewarding. Try the trail from the centre of town to the beach at En Vau, or brave the precipitous path down to Port Pin. There are no facilities on the trails, so make sure you’re well-equipped with proper footwear, water, snacks and sunscreen. And don’t forget your bathing suit – once you reach the beach you’ll surely want to reward yourself with a dip in the deep turquoise waters. Stop off at the Visitor’s Center in Cassis before you set out for further information and a map of the area.
Hop on a Boat
If the idea of all that exertion has you feeling faint, setting out by boat for an hour or two is the more leisurely way to experience the spectacular scenery. Take in the towering cliffs dotted with intrepid climbers and see shoals of fish swim in the crystal clear waters beneath you as you bask in the sun. Speak to your concierge about arranging a boat tour.
After a day enjoy the beauty of nature, reward yourself with an evening enjoying traditional Provencal cuisine and pottering around in the charming boutiques of Cassis. Pick up some traditional textiles or Faïence pottery to take home before enjoying a glass of Côtes de Provence Rosé in the evening sun at one of the many bars along the waterfront. When you’re ready to eat, take a stroll through the winding streets as you decide which restaurant to try from the many delicious options offering local cuisine.
Where to Stay
The majestic seven-bedroom Chateau de Cassis is perched on a cliff-top overlooking the town. Dating back to the 11th Century, the imposing traditional stone building has been updated with all the home comforts, and a heated stone swimming pool. You’ll feel like royalty as you take breakfast on the terrace with panoramic views of the Mediterranean sea dotted with sailboats below.
For smaller parties, the three-bedroom Cap Canaille promises an unforgettable Riviera experience. With views over the Med in one direction and the lush terraces of the foothills behind, it seems hidden away from the rest of the world, while being just a short drive from the center of town. Relax in the outdoor pool surrounded by lush greenery, or enjoy coffee on the shaded loggia. One room is fitted with bunk beds, making this villa great choice for a family getaway.
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